Who’s blogging: Mind over Batter is written by yours truly, Angela Sanchez-Robles. I’m a late bloomer curvaceous Dominican who is obsessed with baking and feeding people. My life’s mission is to fill bellies. I’m doing a good job so far.
I began baking in 2006. My mom thought it was ingenious to enroll in what she termed a “una clase de bizcochos”. Translation: A cake baking course. It wasn’t a baking course. Instead it was a 12 week cake decorating class taught by a very grumpy former pastry chef. I learned nothing about cake decorating, but you could say I learned to bake from that class. Grumpy pastry chef provided one recipe: The rapid fire instructions to Dominican cake, and the incorrect instructions to meringue frosting, known to us Dominicans as “suspiro.”
Before 2006 my baking expertise consisted of 3 boxes of Duncan Hines chocolate cake and Pillsbury biscuit donuts rolled in sugar, both attempted while I was still in my teens. I thought baking was way over my head, but I meticulously wrote down the recipe, taking note of the instructor’s execution, even taking in the sound of the mixer speeds at various intervals during his demo.
I went home that day determined to bake my very first scratch cake. I bought two 10” pans, my first baking pans ever. I dusted my stand mixer, up until that point used strictly for decoration and got cracking. I don’t know if it was the accurate measuring and mixing of ingredients, knowing I had to be precise or my cake would fail, or the unmistakable scent of Dominican cake, but something inside me clicked. I found my Zen. When that cake, my very first came out of the oven, I knew… this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.
Explain your blog name: A very close friend advised me to start a blog. He thought it would be a great idea to document my journey and help organize my recipes, gain exposure. I reluctantly agreed, knowing full well the sort of commitment blogging entails. For the life of me I couldn’t think of a name. I spent weeks putting words and phrases together. I had nothing.
One day, frustrated, I said; “For crying out loud – Why is this so hard?! It’s mind over matter!” “Oh… Mind Over Batter – Got it!” The name embodies how I feel about baking: Baking is easy – Anyone can do it! Just put your mind to it. Some elbow grease helps too…
Blogging since: I had been blogging on and off since April of 2010, but have been fully committed since January of 2011.
Blogging from: I blog from my humble home in the South Bronx, NY. I usually blog from a spare bedroom we’ve dubbed “The Office” with an increasingly heavy little girl on my lap who loves 80’s music. She’s rocks (and sings wicked loud) to Lisa Lisa, Pat Benatar, and Boy George. Um… I do too. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Most popular post: Oh, that’s easy – My Hasselback potatoes. I was literally staring at a potato one night wondering, “What am I going to do with you?” Suddenly I thought of the Jenny Jones makeovers of back in the 90’s, and the Knight Rider theme song (I just dated myself), and I remembered Hasselback potatoes – Slice, bake, and an everyday potato becomes brand new, baby. Readers loved it, and it’s requested by my family often. A close second are my homemade Klondike-y bars. Seriously, who doesn’t like vanilla ice cream squares enrobed in a chocolate shell?
What you’ve learned about food while blogging: I’ve learned to be more conscientious of what I put in my body and the bodies of my family. I’ve become very label conscious. Since I am also a bit obsessive (not to mention controlling), I make certain food items myself; my own stocks, sauces, jams, ice creams, etc. Living in the Bronx, food has also forced me to be more creative. If an item isn’t readily available in the supermarkets that line my neighborhood, I’ll figure out a way to make it myself. For example, I spent over a month searching high and low for cinnamon chips. I looked everywhere! I thought, “It can’t be that hard to make my own chips, can it?” A couple of days later, I successfully created my own. They last forever, and when you bake muffins with homemade cinnamon chips, your family falls at your feet. That’s another thing I learned about food: You get endless praise!
Where do you get inspiration for your posts? I get inspiration from everywhere. Supermarket aisles, especially the International section tends to inspire new dishes. A line in a movie referencing a certain food I haven’t tried has been another source of inspiration, my ever increasing cookbook collection, and magazines. Mostly I wake up with an idea, any idea, and I can’t let it go until it comes to fruition, like the day I came up with banana bread snickerdoodles. The idea came from that nagging sensation in my tummy that said, “Girl, you’ve GOT to make this! What, there’s no recipe? Then make it up!”
What have you learned from blogging? I learned that it’s perfectly fine to be myself, as crazy or annoying as I may sound at times (like now). I’m a total dork, but I’m cool in this dorky way, and I’ve learned to embrace it. When you start blogging you struggle to incorporate your voice with this person you’ve imagined readers will love. You think if you sound like “so-and-so who is more popular”, you will get more visitors, more hits, and more comments. One day it just hits you: Be yourself. You realize your voice is part of you; this is who you are. It’s the sole reason people come to your blog, the reason they stay. It feels liberating.
What are your favorite food blogs? Ooh, I love A Chica Bakes. She’s a fellow Dominican whom I recently met. I assaulted her (in a good way) at a food blogger’s conference this past July, and I’m glad I did. She has a great writing style and you can tell each post is personal to her on a level that runs deeper than the dish she’s sharing with us. I also dig Cooking with Books. Marnely is also a fellow Dominican cooking her way through Martha’s Vineyard. You can always count on Marnely to cook up something decadent that makes you drool directly onto your phone screen or keyboard.